Playlist TED Talks

Playlist: The perfect back-to-school talks, from a TED intern

Back to SchoolI’m an anthropology major gearing up for my senior year and all that comes with it — job applications, extracurricular responsibilities and my senior honors thesis. After a semester abroad, I’m looking forward to returning to the familiarity and challenges that my college, the University of Pennsylvania, presents while incorporating the new perspectives I gained in Argentina. Most of all, I’m looking forward to taking classes taught in English again!

Here, six TEDTalks that I’m taking inspiration from, to help me apply the laid-back philosophy I learned to love in Argentina to situations unique to college students.

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?
In the fast-paced and increasingly wired atmosphere of college campuses, we seem to be developing a tech habit that we can’t kick. Face-to-face interactions are on the decline as people defer more socializing to texting and social media. Psychologist Sherry Turkle argues that we’re creating an illusion of togetherness as we replace each other with technology, we’re losing the capacity for solitude while becoming more and more alone.

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
Whether you are a rising senior trying to solidify hazy post-graduate plans or a freshman trying to pick a major — or even what to do on a Friday night — college students have a lot of choices to make. This wealth of opportunities can be exciting or stressful, but according to Dan Gilbert, the outcomes of these decisions have less bearing on our happiness than we might think. Gilbert’s talk offers encouraging insights into the psychology of happiness, explaining that we tend to adapt to situations even when things don’t seem to work out the way we would have liked. Listen to this talk, and you might find yourself becoming a more confident decision-maker.

Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.
This hilarious talk by book jacket designer Chip Kidd will give you a new appreciation for hardbacks — and may even inspire you to read a chapter of that bio textbook collecting dust under your bed. Kidd explains his design process from start to finish, detailing how he captured the essence of hundreds of pages of text in the iconic covers of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. He reminds us that we lose something special about print books in our Kindles and iPads.

Rives: The 4 a.m. mystery
College is full of late nights — cram sessions for final exams, parties that go until the wee hours of the morning, and deep conversations with close friends. The poet Rives pays homage to this mystical and enigmatic hour, 4 a.m.

Aaron Koblin: Artfully visualizing our humanity
We’re all smarter together than we are alone, says artist Aaron Koblin. You’ll see those dreaded group projects and interminable group study sessions in a new light after watching this beautiful and inspirational talk about the power of collaboration in the digital age, where we can all contribute something small to make a whole greater than ourselves.

Barry Schwartz: Our loss of wisdom
Barry Schwartz’s message of questioning the rules that shape our society will certainly resonate with college students. Highlighting the fault lines in American society, he argues that the rules and regulations that structure our world are in contradiction with the wisdom that would better our society. Wisdom is made, not born, he reminds us, and it is in our power to create a wiser community.